Who will be baseball's next switch-hitting star?

July 1st, 2020

Any list of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history begins with Mickey Mantle, a three-time Most Valuable Player who hit 536 homers during his 18-year career. But "The Mick" is one of many switch-hitters enshrined in Cooperstown, headlining a group of Hall of Famers that includes Chipper Jones, Tim Raines, Roberto Alomar, Eddie Murray and Ozzie Smith, as well as older players George Davis, Red Schoendienst, Ted Simmons and Frankie Frisch.

In 2019, Ketel Marte paced all switch-hitters with both a .329 average and a .981 OPS during a breakout campaign for Arizona. White Sox infielder Yoán Moncada (.315 average) and Pittsburgh's Bryan Reynolds (.314) were the only other qualified switch-hitters to post a .300 average or better, while Pirates first baseman Josh Bell led all switch-hitters with 37 home runs.

So, who will be baseball's next switch hitting star? We've ranked the top 20 candidates based strictly on their offensive tools, skills and overall upside at the plate.

1) Wander Franco, SS, Rays No. 1 (MLB No. 1) 
One of two players to have ever been ascribed an 80-grade hit tool by MLB Pipeline along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Franco owns a .336/.405/.523 batting line and has accrued more walks (83) than strikeouts (54) in 175 games across his first two professional seasons. While the 19-year-old did more damage against righties (.336/.404/.517) in his first full season and is generally viewed as a more dynamic hitter from that side of the plate, Franco also owns a .362 average against southpaws in 138 career at-bats. Perhaps most impressive is the teenager’s knack for making quality contact, a notion that’s supported by his miniscule career swinging-strike rate of 4.3 percent.

2) Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles No. 1 (MLB No. 4) 
After garnering the Most Outstanding Player Award at the 2018 College World Series when he helped lead Oregon State to a title, Rutschman batted over .400 with 17 homers as a junior en route to winning both the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Awards before the Orioles made him the top pick in the ’19 Draft. A patient hitter who employs an advanced approach from both sides of the plate, Rutschman possesses the type of pure hitting ability and power potential needed to become a star in the Major Leagues, even more so when you consider how good he is defensively.

3) Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees No. 1 (MLB No. 54) 
Dominguez has yet to appear in a Minor League game after signing with New York for $5.4 million at the outset of the July 2018-19 international period, but it’s easy to dream on what the 17-year-old outfielder could become. A tremendous athlete who’s loaded with bat speed and strength, Dominguez already exhibits a smooth swing from both sides of the plate and projects to hit for both average and power as he climbs through the ranks.

4) Dylan Carlson, OF, Cardinals No. 1 (MLB No. 17)
The 2016 first-round pick was one of the Minors’ top breakout players in '19, garnering MVP honors in the Double-A Texas League at age 20 before moving up to Triple-A and finishing the season as one of 10 Minor Leaguers with at least 20 home runs and 20 steals (26, 20). Specifically, Carlson made huge gains as a left-handed hitter last year, slugging .551 with 18 homers -- a marked improvement compared to an '18 that saw him hit four homers and compile a .327 slugging percentage. He continued to fare well against lefties, too, homering once every 15.5 at-bats while slashing .274/.345/.516.

5) Drew Waters, OF, Braves No. 2 (MLB No. 26) 
Speaking of breakout prospects, Waters, Atlanta’s second-round pick in the 2017 Draft, was named the Double-A Southern League MVP in '19 after he led the circuit with a .319 average as a 20-year-old. He does more damage as a left-handed hitter, as evidenced by his .325/.380/.486 line against righties last year, but he spent the offseason re-working his right-handed swing with the goal of impacting the ball more consistently from that side of the plate in 2020. While Waters’ high average on balls in play and high strikeout rate underscore his areas for improvement going forward, the highly athletic outfielder has the requisite tools and skills needed to make such adjustments.

6) Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS, Rays No. 3 (MLB No. 45) 
The 22-year-old fits the description of a future top-of-the-order hitter with plus-plus speed and penchant for making contact. He ranked second in the Minors with 55 steals in his first full season and finished tied for fourth in 2019, when he swiped 48 bags while reaching Double-A Montgomery. Across those two campaigns, Brujan has posted a .321 average against righties compared to a .246 clip versus southpaws.

7) Ronny Mauricio, SS, Mets No. 1 (MLB No. 62)
Signed by the Mets for $2.1 million in July 2017, Mauricio spent his entire age-17 campaign in the Class A South Atlantic League, where he produced a .268/.307/.358 line against players who were on average three-and-a-half years his senior. With plenty of room still to grow into his 6-foot-3, 166-pound frame, Mauricio’s outlook is largely tied to his future projection. He’s already shown impact potential from the left side of the plate (.280/.325/.381 in ’19) but has a way to go with regards to his right-handed swing and approach.

8) Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS, Rays No. 4 (MLB No. 72) 
The Rays acquired Edwards from the Padres, who had drafted him 38th overall in 2018, this past offseason after he had batted .322 with 34 steals and finished tied for third in the Minors in hits (162), all while climbing from Class A Fort Wayne to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in his first full season. A high-contact hitter from both sides of the plate who rarely swings and misses and uses his plus-plus speed to steal hits on the ground, Edwards produced similar numbers from both sides of the plate, slashing .333/.386/.409 as a left-handed hitter and .287/.343/.352 as a righty.

9) Geraldo Perdomo, SS, D-backs No. 4 (MLB No. 82) 
Perdomo was known more for his sterling defense at shortstop than his hitting ability prior to 2019, but he’s now viewed as a relatively well-rounded player after batting .275/.397/.364 with more walks (70) than strikeouts (67) across two full-season levels in his age-19 campaign. His .271/.400/.363 battling line against right-handers and .291/.387/.367 line against southpaws highlights his ability to handle the bat from both sides of the plate, while his patient and discerning approach points to even more offensive gains in his future.

10) Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers No. 4 (MLB No. 73) 
After batting .268/.328/.401 with a career-high 12 homers as a 19-year-old in Double-A in 2018, Ruiz returned to the level last year and produced a .254/.329/.330 line with four homers in 76 games during an injury-shortened campaign. The 21-year-old has an advanced approach and excels at making contact from both sides of the plate, especially as a lefty. He’s hit all but two of his 29 career homers from the left side of the plate and owns a .269 average against righties over the past two years.

11) Aaron Bracho, 2B, Indians No. 7 
The No. 7 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list of the Top 10 second basemen, Bracho, whom the Indians signed out of Venezuela for $1.5 million in July 2017, controls the zone and impacts the baseball better than most players his age, showing an explosive swing and knack for generating fly-ball contact from both sides of the plate that leads scouts to peg him as a future 20-homer, high-OBP threat.

12) Leody Taveras, OF, Rangers No. 3
In addition to being one of the top defensive outfielders in the Minors, Taveras has the offensive skills needed to become an all-around impact player. With a good swing from both sides of the plate, Taveras has been more effective as a lefty and all 19 of his homers in his first four pro seasons came against right-handers.

13) Brayan Rocchio, SS, Indians No. 6 
Rocchio doesn’t have Bracho’s power potential and on-base skills, but a case can be made that the Venezuelan shortstop is the better hitter of the two. A .335 hitter as a 17-year-old during his 2018 pro debut, Rocchio recognizes pitches better than most teenagers and makes line-drive contact with a smooth stroke from both sides of the plate, though his ability to put the bat on the ball so effortlessly does detract from his walk totals.

14) Robert Puason, SS, A’s No. 4 
After ranking as MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 international prospect for the 2019-20 period, Puason became one of two players in his class to receive a bonus north of $5 million (along with the Yankees’ Dominguez) when he signed for $5.1 million. He already barrels up the ball consistently from both sides of the plate and is expected to develop legitimate game power as he adds strength and grows into his projectable 6-foot-3 frame.

15) Abraham Toro, 3B/2B, Astros No. 3 
Toro received his first big league callup last August after he torched Double-A and Triple-A pitching to the tune of .324/.411/.527 with 17 homers in 114 games. The Canadian infielder fared better against right-handers on the season, batting .320/.408/.530 against them across three levels compared to .250/.333/.391 against southpaws. His struggles against lefties were amplified in the big leagues, where he tallied two hits in 26 plate appearances.

16) Anderson Tejeda, SS, Rangers No. 8
After struggling against southpaws early in his career, the 22-year-old resumed switch-hitting in 2019 before a shoulder injury wiped out his campaign after 43 games. But as a 20-year-old in '18, Tejada ranked second in total bases (205) and fifth in homers (19) while producing a .292/.369/.504 line against right-handers.

17) Cal Raleigh, C, Mariners No. 8
Raleigh, the Mariners’ third-round pick in the 2018 Draft, erupted to hit 29 homers last year while reaching Double-A in his first full season. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound backstop hit 24 of his dingers off righties, against whom he posted an .827 OPS. He had an OPS of .786 from the right side of the plate, hitting five homers in 80 at-bats.

18) Michael Toglia, 1B, Rockies No. 3
Selected by Colorado with the No. 23 pick in the 2019 Draft, Toglia was viewed by scouts as one of the better college bats in his class, with plus raw power from both sides of the plate that he displayed by finishing among the leaders in home runs in the Short Season Northwest League during his pro debut. More power should come as he grows into his athletic, 6-foot-5 frame, though some scouts question his overall contact skills.

19) Gilberto Jimenez, OF, Red Sox No. 5
A $10,000 signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez began switch-hitting shortly after turning pro, and posted a .319 average during his pro debut in ’18. He was even better last year in his age-18 campaign, winning the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League batting title with a .359 average. Jimenez uses plus-plus speed to turn routine grounders into hits and shows impressive feel for making contact from both sides of the plate. So far, he has been more effective hitting left-handed despite being a natural righty.

20) Arol Vera, SS, Angels No. 10
Signed by the Angels for $2 million last July, Vera already demonstrates an advanced feel for the game at 17. The Angels love his plate discipline as well as his swing from both sides of the plate, and he could be a plus hitter with average power when all is said and done.